tv 2020 ABC February 19, 2016 10:01pm-11:01pm PST
we're going to be roping this whole area off. >> i saw her two weeks ago and she was fine. she was fine. >> reporter: nique leili's body was found here. >> reporter: a mother, found dead, covered by leaves, no clues, no evidence. just a little square of just a little square of video. smoking a late night cigarette on the porch. the last time she was seen alive. >> i said, "are you seris? call the police." >> reporter: tonight, "20/20" takes you inside that family's nightmare. their home mysteriously hotwired with 21 surveillance cameras rolling non-stop, recording everything.
>> reporter: her husband, a security expert, trying out the latest equipment on his very own family. >> he was trying to watch the entire world around him. >> reporter: but is his wife just being mad? >> no, no, no, no. i know for a fact i let it go. >> reporter: or going mad? >> my wife has a long history of mental imbalances. >> she was a trainwreck waiting to happen. >> reporter: a marriage unraveling. a father under suspicion. >> this is really freaking me out. >> reporter: the media obsessed. >> i'm not suspicious. this woman was murdered. >> reporter: and two crucial days of tapes missing. >> so here's a man waiting for a crime to happen every day. one finally happens, and he's got no pictures of it. >> reporter: but what happens after an autopsy on the computer? >> it was gold. >> reporter: tonight, the sergeant, haunted by the case. >> i made a promise to myself i would never give up. >> reporter: the suspect's daughters defending him. taking their crusade public on youtube. >> it's finally time for us to tell the truth. >> reporter: and how it finally gets solved, by a voice from the grave.
>> i don't want any part of this freaking family anymore. >> reporter: what the camera didn't see. >> good evening. i'm david muir. >> and i'm elizabeth vargas. most families have scrapbooks, family photo albums. but tonight's has taken that to the extreme. years worth of recordings, and not just the happy times. from a command center inside the home. >> and when a tragedy occurs, where are they? 48 hours, vanished. but right here tonight, what the camera didn't see, and the just-finished murder trial that the country did see. here's jim avila. >> reporter: what would we see if your home was being watched inside and out, 24 hours a day by 21 surveillance cameras? watching as you sat on the couch in front of the tv, unblinking as you sneak outside for a smoke on the porch. show me where you saw cameras.
>> if you see the front door -- to the right of it, basically up in the corner there was -- there was a camera right there. kind of up in the top eave, on the back corner of the house. >> reporter: welcome to sidney's cove, a quiet cul-de-sac in lawrenceville, georgia. 40 miles north of atlanta. a small town where the bells of the first baptist church can be heard in the backyard and dinnertime is marked by the rumble of freight trains. it's home to matt and nique leili, their daughters amanda and rebecca -- and nique's older daughter alex, from a previous marriage. why all the cameras? matt's in the business. he sells security systems. a tech-savvy law and order guy who has become a one-man neighborhood watch. we sat down with nique's family. her father doug chatham, her daughter, alex and sister amy. >> i knew that there were cameras all over the place because, i mean, you know he made a point to -- sort of brag about it, really. it was a -- sort of a source of pride for him.
>> reporter: the house seems so tranquil on the outside. matt and nique, both 44 years old. married on valentine's day. together 13 years. many of them good. she was southern, an accountant, the breadwinner. matt, a transplanted new yorker, called her babycakes. >> nique told me, you know, that she was in love with him. >> reporter: their daughters rebecca and amanda, now teenagers, posted this youtube video of the couple's trip to hawaii to frolic in the sun. >> my mom surprised my dad while they were down there and renewed their vows. she's happy. they were in love. >> reporter: that does seem like something people who are in love and still care for each other do. >> right. >> reporter: but just like hawaii's famous volcanoes, this love affair is about to blow like kilauea in the dark of night. and thanks to matt's over the top obsession with security everywhere, we hear it all. >> get out of my [ bleep ] way
before i start breaking [ bleep ] in this office. >> look at the way we're approaching this. >> i'm fixing to start breaking [ bleep ]. >> i know you are. >> so get out of the way. >> reporter: that steel magnolia plus-size voice belongs to the petite nique leili, 5'3", 98 pounds soaking wet . matt is a giant oaf of a man. 6'5", 250 pounds. big enough to lift his tiny wife nique with one hand, but on some of these recordings, he sounds like a punching bag. >> i can't keep doing this. these fights that we're having. >> you are un-[ bleep ]-believable. how you can dare sit here and talk to me. >> lower your voice. >> my time. >> reporter: the reasons for their fights might sound familiar. money and sex. the leilis are $300,000 in debt -- their love life troubled. they are seeing a counselor. >> i am fighting for this marriage. >> [ bleep ]. [ bleep ] you.
here, you want the cops. >> the problem that i see, is that what you want is not me and not us. >> reporter: matt's surveillance business has become his obsession. watching. always watching. the porch cams, the yard cams, the driveway cams, all diligently documenting the daily non-events of suburban life. >> this guy has a system in his house that the -- the military would be jealous of, you know? we're talking about a huge server, bigger than something that we would even have at the police station. alex moved out at 16 because she couldn't get along with her stepdad matt and his cameras, leaving her younger half-sisters behind. >> it was very uncomfortable all of the time, you know? he had a camera in the living room that faced the couch. so if you wanted to sit down and watch tv, you were being monitored. >> reporter: but matt insists there was a reason for all the surveillance. he'd grown worried his wife had become mentally unstable. >> i'm going to protect my child and make sure you're not a yelling, raving lunatic first. >> give me a [ bleep ] break. they do not need protection from me! >> reporter: worse, she had a
habit of storming off. >> get the [ bleep ] out of my way. >> can we compromise here? >> no! there is no compromise. no! >> what i propose is that you calm down for a moment. if in a clear head, you want to leave, i'm not going to stop you. >> good. >> reporter: now matt's afraid nique might run off in a rage and get hurt. to deal with that he turns to another of his tech skills. hidden audio recorders in her car, her purse, and using her cell phone to track her. here's matt's explanation. >> i'm recording my wife, i've got a tracker on her, you know. i've got to find my wife every time she runs away. i mean, i'm not some over possessive freak. >> reporter: the girls still living in the house, amanda and rebecca, are witness to the constant marital battles. in that youtube video, which will play a big role in this story later, they say their mom was the problem. she was acting crazy.
>> she was saying how she was tired of the voices telling her that people were talking bad about her and she was tired of the voices telling her this and the voices telling her that. >> reporter: that was june 28th, 2011. nique calls 911. documentation of what matt says he fears. she's running away from home. and he's trying to stop her. >> gwinnett county 911. >> yeah, my husband refuses to let me leave the house. >> my wife is yelling and screaming and just woke up the children. you really want the cops here? i think my wife just was throwing a temper tantrum, i don't think we need the police. >> let me have her tell me that, sir. >> all right, you need to pick up the phone or they're going to come. >> you don't need to come. i'll stay in my house all day. >> i already have them dispatched that way, sir. >> all right, thank you, ma'am. >> you're welcome. >> reporter: the cops come by to make sure things are under control, but nique doesn't even look at the officers. that's her bag packed and ready by her side. later that day, she takes it and
leaves. and within hours matt has their then 12-year-old daughter amanda call and beg her not to stay away. it's heartbreaking. >> hey, mommy. >> hey baby, how are you? >> good. mommy, we need to go on vacation, all of us as a family. we need to save this family. >> reporter: the family doesn't go on vacation. but nique comes home. they stay at sydney's cove behind closed doors -- with all those cameras rolling. things seem to be getting back to normal. the family saved -- for two weeks. until a july night, that small figure in screen is nique. it's date night with matt. dinner and a movie. later that night, the leili surveillance cameras show nique out on the deck for a smoke before bed. we can't tell in this tape, but the cigarette is not the only thing smoldering that summer night. nique leili is about to disappear.
when we come back, after 13 years of marriage and thousands of arguments, nique leili is finally gone for good. and her husband says it's because she is crazy. where's nique? and what do all those cameras say about her disappearance? stay with us. we stop arthritis pain, so you don't have to stop. because you believe in go. onward. today's the day. carpe diem. tylenol® 8hr arthritis pain has two layers of pain relief. the first is fast. the second lasts all day. we give you your day back. what you do with it is up to you. tylenol®. first i wash... then i apply it to my wet skin. it moisturizes with no sticky feel. i quickly rinse off. and i'm ready to go. nivea in-shower body lotion -- in the body lotion aisle.
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samsung pay to get al katz's deli pastrami sandwich. (katz's employees) hey!!! hey what's up? hey can i pay with my phone? you mean like apple pay? we don't got that. no like samsung pay. kind of works everywhere. even on this janky old thing. he wants to pay with his phone. whadda ya want hannibal? i want to pay with my phone. don't look at the cameras mike. you ready? it doesn't work. watch me. boom! oh! samsung pay is here and pretty much everywhere else. i thought activia wasn't for me. until i realized how much our digestive systems handle during winter. 90 stressful days juggling hectic schedules. over 40 meals of heavy comfort foods like baked mac & cheese. no wonder after all that our digestive systems can act up. so try the activia two week challenge! enjoying activia twice a day for two weeks may help reduce the frequency of bloating, gas, discomfort or rumbling. try it! it works in two weeks or it's free.
nique leili, mother, breadwinner, a woman who despite her size takes no guff from her outsized husband, and now she is missing. nowhere to be found in the nowhere to be found in the family's upscale four-bedroom house outside atlanta. now we can go inside with video obtained by abc news. are there any clues in here that answer the question, where's nique? go ahead, look around, see any signs of a violent struggle? any blood stains on the carpet? broken furniture? sure, there's a gun in a holster, but it's not smoking. nothing more incriminating than an unmade bed. and there it is, matt's electronic fortress. and yet for someone so concerned with the comings and goings in and around his house, matt waits two days after nique vanished, before bothering to pick up the phone and call nique's sister amy. >> and he said, "have you talked to nique?" and i said, "no. why? what's going on?" and then he said, "well, nique's missing." i said, "what are you talking about?"
and he said, "yeah. she hasn't been home since saturday." i said, "are you serious? call the police." >> reporter: after that call, matt did file a missing person report and told his story to police. he and nique had a fight, he slept on the floor of his office and when he woke up the next morning nique was gone. he says the only thing she took was her toothbrush. her purse, her phone, any tracking devices left behind. >> i go upstairs to see what's going on. she's not there. >> reporter: he says she has been breaking down mentally for some time and just walked away. >> this is the weirdest thing. okay. this is really freaking me out, okay? this is not the first time she's run away. but she's never been gone overnight. >> reporter: matt overshares with the cop on the phone telling him the fight is about sex, in detail. >> on the way home i said to her, "hey," because i wanted sex. but the sex we've been having
hasn't been anything special. i said to her, "hey. how about you put on an outfit?" i think that might have set her off. >> reporter: he says maybe she checked into a hospital, suffering from a breakdown. >> my wife has a long history of some kind of mental imbalances. okay? >> reporter: now matt says he's had enough. he's done with his crazy wife. >> i told her if she doesn't straighten up, i'm going to divorce her. i saw an attorney about it too, just yesterday. >> reporter: that's right, before police have even launched a search, and her family says before matt has spread the word that nique has gone missing. he has hired a lawyer to divorce her. >> what was that about? yeah, i couldn't tell you. i mean, my response to that, my reaction to that, was, "who does that?" >> it was just all about him. it was never a frantic, "where is my wife?" >> reporter: and, as if divorce isn't enough of a threat, matt goes down to the courthouse to fill out paperwork to have nique committed. here he is telling his brother-in-law about it. >> i was at the court house swearing out a warrant for nique leili.
for involuntary committal. >> reporter: by now, a multigenerational civil war is breaking out. pitting the northerner matt and his young daughters against his southern in-laws, nique's family, including her daughter alex. >> my mother was the farthest thing from crazy you could get. >> reporter: nique's family has a very different take about her disappearance. they resent what matt is saying about nique's mental condition and they're angry that matt took two days to tell them she is missing. >> he wasn't worried at all about finding his wife. he was concerned about making sure that he spread the story that she was insane. >> reporter: so a week after nique vanished, alex helped organize a search. amy alerted the media, hoping to get the whole community involved. more than 100 volunteers, all in red, spread out through the neighborhood. matt was not among them. skipping what may have been the shortest search in the history
of missing persons. ten minutes after friends and family had formed a grid. >> i just saw a huge big pile. it looked like it was covering up something so i just started kicking away at it and then saw her body and her hair. >> i heard somebody scream from the woods, you know, so i went running up there to see what they had uncovered. and it was my sister. >> oh, dear god. >> family members crying out. gwinnett county firefighters and police arrive just minutes after people looking for nique leili make a shocking discovery. >> and i blacked out. i just remember hitting the ground. >> reporter: nique's body was found nude less than a mile from her house. if she was running away, she didn't get far. the finger pointing begins. this is amy, moments after her sister nique's body is found.
>> he waited two days to even report her missing. he told me that they'd had a huge fight and that, you know, she wasn't well and that she had been having breakdowns and stuff. but i saw her two weeks ago and she was fine. >> reporter: the missing persons case is closed. but is this murder? >> investigators are talking with leili's husband and searching the couple's home. but police say right now, he is not a suspect. >> reporter: certainly matt's personal centcom will prove he had nothing to do with his wife's disappearance. what better alibi witness than 21 cameras? so here's a man waiting for a crime to happen every day, sitting in his office, looking around. one finally happens, and he's got no pictures of it? >> correct. >> reporter: when we come back, what the camera didn't see. stay with us. y bound presentation fill you with optimism? do you love your wireless keyboard more than certain family members? is your success due to a filing system only you understand?
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the camera didn't see. >> reporter: take a good look at this image of nique leili on her porch. hours before she supposedly walked out on her husband matt. it's the last picture of her alive. because, believe it or not, in this house tricked out like a small casino with 21 cameras, none of them managed to capture a single image of her final exit. >> so did you as an investigator think, well, this might be easy? there's cameras all over the place. he's got a recorder here. you might get some evidence off of this. >> correct. >> and did you ask him, can i see the night? >> he stated that when he came back to his office he realized the system was turned off. >> reporter: cue the chorus. how convenient -- and suspicious. the most puzzling tape gap since watergate. only this isn't just 18 minutes. its two days' worth of critical video, nowhere to be found. >> you would think we'd have it on video. i mean, this guy was serious about his video surveillance. >> reporter: matt leili tells police that after his wife had
that cigarette on the porch -- the last time she was ever seen on the night of july 8th, 2011. his elaborate monitoring system designed to watch every move simply went dark. matt's theory -- she stopped by his office where he was sleeping on the floor and pulled the plug on her way out the door on her crazed walk into the night. >> he said she turned off the system. >> reporter: without him knowing it? >> correct. >> reporter: even though he's in the room? >> correct. >> reporter: getting no help from matt's cameras, investigators turn to nique's body under the branches. else? the body's telling you something else? >> yeah, the body's definitely telling us that she didn't walk there. we're working this as a homicide. >> reporter: then there is the condition of her bare feet. >> that's something that's very telling of, you know, of a body being placed is the clean feet because if you're running around the neighborhood, you're going to get cuts. i mean, these were pristine. the nail polish is clean and not nicked up. >> reporter: after an autopsy, the toxicology report reveals a tantalizing new piece of evidence about nique's last hours.
in her system they find high levels of ghb, the date rape drug. >> in hundreds of cases, accidentals, overdoses, homicides, suicides, i've never seen ghb in a toxicology report. so that caught my attention immediately. >> reporter: remember, matt told the police the big blow-up that night was over sex. he wanted it, she didn't. but now there's evidence, somehow he had his way. something he failed to mention in his phone conversation with the cops. >> i said, listen. okay, this has gone on far enough, all right. i'll go downstairs, once again, and sleep on the couch. you go to sleep. we'll talk about this in the morning. >> reporter: but the autopsy is most notable for what it does not reveal, the georgia summer is a killer's accomplice. >> we don't have an indication at that time, because of decomp and seven days out in july heat, of exactly the cause of death. >> reporter: there are no bullet holes, no knife wounds. no blunt force trauma.
>> reporter: you thought she had been strangled. but there's no fingerprints either, right? and there's no marks around her neck. >> right. because of decomp, we don't have the telltale signs of strangulation. >> reporter: matt leili is definitely a suspect in his wife's murder. in fact, the only suspect. but there is not enough evidence to charge him. nique's family is beside themselves. her daughter alex almost feels guilty. >> like, there was something i wasn't doing to help fight for justice. there was something i was missing. sometimes you just wanted to scream at the rooftop. you know, he did it. do something. >> reporter: matt cuts off nique's family. isolating his daughters, they skip a memorial for nique. they don't even go to her funeral. he stops talking to police too. >> police say matt leili is not cooperating, refusing to meet with them. >> reporter: the case is growing cold. and worse yet -- the day before what would have been matt and nique's 14th anniversary, sidney's cove is being vacated. >> today we found two moving trucks in the driveway. >> reporter: matt leili is moving away from nique's
accusing family. >> there is no recourse so we feel very helpless. >> reporter: and the questioning georgia cops. >> as far as restricting his movements, we don't have any right or reason to do that right now. >> reporter: starting a new life 1,000 miles away in a hilltop house in rural londonderry, vermont. and he is taking amanda and rebecca with him. well, he's gone away, alex, but the real downside is your sisters have gone away too. >> it breaks my heart. to be completely honest, it breaks me down. i practically helped raise those girls. >> reporter: time is moving. but the case is not. alex, nique's oldest daughter, is planning her wedding with no mother of the bride. the other two daughters are now teenagers. sydney's cove is foreclosed and sold off. a family divided. a case frozen in time -- but not forgotten. at police headquarters, located poetically on hi hope road, sits sergeant john richter, unwilling to give up on hope.
he spends an entire year listening to what it's like being watched and controlled 24/7. >> i'm supposed to live my life running around wondering where a recorder is? what emails are being read? >> who brought that on themselves? >> no, matt. people don't live that way. >> reporter: 1,200 hours that he says reveal to him, the only crazy thing about nique was that she was married to a monster. >> [ bleep ]. lower your voice! i am not going to sit here and listen to this [ bleep ]. >> reporter: matt shows he is just as capable of losing his temper and according to nique -- using his hands as well as his voice to abuse her. >> if i wanted to do harm to you i could have done it. you think i'm going to harm you? >> i don't know, matt. you tried to tonight. >> i did not. >> [ bleep ]. with 6'5", 250 [ bleep ] plus pounds, with your hands around my throat. you had me pinned to the [ bleep ] wall. >> all my homicide victims over the year, i've never met
anybody. but after listening to these recordings, it gave me the -- you know, ability to know her. >> reporter: you liked her. >> i think she was a wonderful person, a wonderful mother, and by all accounts, she was a wonderful wife. just couldn't do enough for one individual. >> reporter: and you became determined to get this solved. >> i wasn't going to give up. >> reporter: that devotion leads to a big break. something as good as a bloody fingerprint hidden deep inside matt leili's computer. >> this was enough to tip the scales. >> reporter: matt leili, about to find himself in handcuffs. and his teenage daughters, staying loyal to their father. how far will they go to prove daddy didn't do it? jail house phone calls ahead. >> love you, baby girl. good luck today. >> i love you too. >> reporter: stay with us. and a live photo of a cat. live photos are more than just photos. they come alive when you touch them. and then they go back to still when you let go.
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snchts. once again, what the camera didn't see, and "20/20." >> seems like over the years, i must have passed this place hundreds of times and i always thought of her. i'd always stop and look. >> reporter: as years passed, some may have figured hell would freeze over before police would solve the strange case of nique leili, found dead near her home in the atlanta suburb of lawrenceville. >> it's a day much unlike today. it's, you know, not snowing. it's july. and it's hot. >> reporter: it is definitely freezing on this day, more than four years later, as cold case cop john richter leads us to the little woods where her nude body was hastily buried under dead leaves and branches. >> reporter: where was it exactly? >> it's right in this area in here, amongst these -- these trees. >> reporter: detective richter was part of the homicide team called out here the day her body was discovered.
here in these woods, richter says he made a vow. >> that day when i was -- i was looking at this person who was placed here, it's like she didn't matter to anybody so i made a promise to myself that day, i would never give up on this case, or nique. >> i think we were all hoping for some sort of resolution by this time. >> reporter: for all matt leili's surveillance cameras, his radio shack syndrome, the fate of nique remains a blind spot. not so much as a flickering image or telltale echo. the story had always been, all that video evidence disappeared because matt leili's hard drives somehow got corrupted. >> now, corruption, it's -- it's a broad term, you know? >> reporter: could have been an accident. >> sure. >> reporter: could have been power went out. >> yeah, the lightning strike. you know? >> reporter: but then that cold case detective has a white-hot idea. he asks detective chris ford, a forensics expert, to autopsy matt leili's hard drive hoping
newly available technology will exhume any evidence buried inside the computer. >> oftentimes in my cold cases, i send off clothing, you know, so you might get a dna hit on some clothing that you didn't prior. well, in this case in particular, it was computers. it was the forensic stuff that i decided, you know, let's get a new, fresh look at the computers and the forensics. >> reporter: two weeks later detective ford casually drops the report off at richter's desk. >> and i look at it, and i see that -- i see the word "deleted." and i said, "no, these video files are deleted." he's like, "oh, absolutely. it was all deleted." >> reporter: now the evidence is clear. this was no accident. somebody intentionally deleted security camera video from the precise hours when nique had left, or been taken, from the house. the difference between the word deleted and corrupted for you is what? >> deleted, to me, means it was deleted by a person. somebody went in there and deleted, wanted this video gone. >> reporter: so now, you got to figure out who had the opportunity to do that. >> right. >> reporter: and what did your investigation show? >> coincidentally enough, the
defendant in this case is, by his account, a computer expert. a surveillance expert. >> reporter: it's all circumstantial but it's enough. the cops are now rebooting their case and the timing couldn't be worse for matt leili. that's because just about this time, he's back in town, in federal court in atlanta to testify in a civil lawsuit over nique's life insurance money. matt's lawyer in that case, jeff diamond. >> my perceptions is that he was a caring father. he was a big teddy bear, really. >> reporter: but big teddy bear has a big problem. >> reporter: were you there in the court? >> i was outside. >> reporter: matt leili leaves the courtroom and gets in the elevator. he thinks he's going to down to the lobby. but he's just going down. detective richter arrests him right there at the courthouse. did you get to put the cuffs on him? >> i did. and it felt good. >> reporter: we're finding out what led gwinnett county police to charge a husband in the murder of his wife three and a half years ago. >> reporter: our affiliate wsb
went straight to nique's sister amy and showed her this video of her nemesis in custody. >> it's a thing i've kind of pictured in my mind for a while but kind of had doubts as to whether i would actually ever see it. >> reporter: matt leili can forget about spending the insurance money. now he's fighting to keep from spending the rest of his life in a georgia prison. >> you have been charged with murder. >> reporter: matthew leili appeared tired and dazed as a judge read him the charges. >> reporter: dazed, maybe, but not confused. from behind bars awaiting trial, these recordings obtained by "20/20" reveal leili has an audacious plan to spring himself. >> make sure you tell people we have set up a youtube channel. to tell you the truth about what happened in our home. >> okay. >> reporter: his secret weapon? his own daughters, amanda and rebecca.
they get father-knows-best instructions from a jailhouse phone to launch a youtube crusade to defend him against nique's family. >> all these years we were told to be silent. to protect mom's image. we can't be silent anymore. >> okay. >> my daddy's now in jail because of these false allegations, it's time we tell the truth. that's even better. >> reporter: just listen, they execute his instructions almost word for word. >> and it's finally time for us to tell the truth and for us to call them out on their lies and -- >> now's our chance. >> say something insulting, from this, pathological lying family that doesn't want their dirty laundry aired, but the truth will come out. >> yes, sir. >> and the family is making sure we can't say anything. we can't argue to keep their dirty laundry from being aired. >> reporter: then matt uses his daughters to support his claim that their mother nique was crazy. >> my mom started pacing back and forth and she started kind of mumbling to herself. >> don't forget to tell everybody about the youtube site because we want it on tv, okay?
>> okay. >> love you, baby girl. good luck today. >> i love you too. >> reporter: leili got his wish. the girls' video makes news. >> as focus turns on dad. nique's own daughters take to youtube to defend him. >> the video was created by the man's two daughters. >> this is the teenage daughters, they made a youtube video inspired by the father. >> it hurt a lot. they said some -- some hateful things about our family. they painted our mom like someone she really wasn't. >> reporter: as the mystery of nique's murder grips the streets of lawrenceville, just past scotland yard antiques, a street named luckie leads to the courthouse. where the two sides of the feuding family will meet again. >> reporter: happening now, lawyers are questioning the final potential jurors in the trial of a man who prosecutors say murdered his wife. >> reporter: still ahead, the murder trial of matt leili. the star witness, the victim herself, nique leili is about to speak to the jury. >> you tried to kill me. >> reporter: and the witness who almost stops the trial with just one look.
what she does that makes the jury squirm. >> it was probably one of the most awkward moments of my life. i did -- i wanted to turn away. >> reporter: stay with us. don't go it alone. (sfx: ding) this president's day event sears' experts will help you save 40% or more on kenmore hot buys. and save 20% or more on hot buys from other top brands. plus get free delivery on all appliances over $399 when you use your sears card. sears. house experts for home owners. does your makeup remover every kiss-proof,ff? cry-proof, stay-proof look? neutrogena® makeup remover does. it erases 99% of your most stubborn makeup with one towelette. need any more proof than that? neutrogena. searching for a great used car? you got it. just say, show me millions of used cars for sale at the all-new carfax.com.
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"20/20" continues with what the camera didn't see. >> reporter: under a threatening sky this month, a storm blowing in over the gwinnett county courthouse. matt leili is on trial, accused of murdering his wife. >> the new murder in georgia where a father of two is charged of killing his wife pretending she disappeared. >> before he called police, he calls a lawyer.
>> reporter: in court, two powerful teams head to head, prosecutor lisa jones. >> the evidence will prove, that matthew leili murdered his wife. >> reporter: tom clegg, matt leili's criminal defense attorney. >> he is falsely accused, pure and simple. >> reporter: exhibit "a," the autopsy. the medical examiner, often a casemaker for prosecutors, helpfully testifies she sure does suspect foul play. but if the jury is hoping for something directly connecting matt leili to his wife's death, this witness is no help. she can't even say for sure how nique died. >> they don't have a rock solid case at all here. >> rule the cause of death as undetermined. >> reporter: jurors such as kim muenster say when it comes to hard direct evidence. at least at the beginning of the state's case, they're just not hearing it. did any of that bother you? >> i thought from the get-go that you had to have proof, i
was like, i need something more, i need something more. >> reporter: and the prosecution got an unpleasant surprise when they called this woman to the stand, joanne lucie. matt leili's ex-wife. people in the courtroom say the legal bar suddenly turns into a singles bar. no objection, but it sure looks like the witness is flirting. >> okay. you're looking at him, periodically. >> he has beautiful eyes. he'd known that. he knows that i will always look at his eyes. he knows that. >> was that part of what attracted you to him to begin with? >> oh, yeah. his eyes. his height. his physique. >> okay. >> reporter: even though they'd been unhappily and briefly married 20 years before, there was still something. >> be that as it may, you still can't help but look at his eyes, can you? >> no. they're beautiful. >> that was astonishing, okay? she was flirting with him on the witness stand. >> reporter: goo-goo eyes aside, matt's former missus does manage to deliver some damaging testimony, confirming he got rough with her. >> he would like to push you down to the ground, and pin you
down. i'm not a very strong person, so i was easy to pin down. >> i guess she loves his eyes and loves his look, but she doesn't like the things that he did to her. >> reporter: because he did some -- some things that are very similar to what he did to nikki. >> very similar. >> there were several nights that i would lay up at night, and listen to her say, "please get off of me. get off of me. you're hurting me." >> reporter: and prosecutor jones has much more ammo in her arsenal. the computer forensics from detective richter's investigation. the cameras were working when this crime happened. >> absolutely. it was intentionally deleted. >> reporter: but there is more. those recordings of a marriage on the brink. detective john richter takes the stand to testify about the year of his life he spent listening to nique. >> they give me a rare view into a victim's life, and how her life was leading up to her death. and i mean, i -- it was -- it was gold.
>> reporter: listen to this gem. not just a garden variety shouting match. richter, and apparently nique, believe matt once made something very much like a death threat. >> the words out of your [ bleep ] mouth. i should've let you kill yourself so i didn't have to [ bleep ] do it. don't [ bleep ] deny it, because those were the exact words that came out of your mouth. >> i said you should've, i should've let you killed yourself, why should i bother, be the one to do it? >> reporter: and so here is the state's theory of the murder of nique leili. what do you surmise did happen? after she and matt come home from the movies, that last security camera gets glimpse as she sneaks a smoke. very likely the last one of her life. >> he gave her some ghb just to lower her, her resistance level. and then, you know, they had sex. >> reporter: fed up with the fights over sex and money, and terrified that his wife and meal ticket will leave with the kids, matt leili then makes certain
his tiny wife nique will never raise her voice to him again. >> and at some point, she was asphyxiated by him sitting on her, or strangling her. >> reporter: so he killed her with his own hands? >> he did. absolutely. he killed her with his own hands, with his own body. >> reporter: the crime scene bears no signs of a struggle. the body, no defensive wounds. but a dead wife is still a dead wife. >> he's got to get her out of that house, 'cause the girls are going to get up soon. he puts her in the woods like that. now he's got to delete the video. >> reporter: okay, so, that's the theory. prove it, says matt leili. his daughters, amanda, now 17, rebecca, 14, are his best weapons. they arrive at the courthouse from vermont. one after the other, the girls take the stand to defend their father. >> is this gentleman here your dad? >> yes. >> okay. and you love him, right? >> of course. >> very briefly, describe the relationship that your mom and dad had. >> they loved each other. >> did they ever fight? argue? >> they did argue, yes. >> did you ever see your dad hit your mom?
>> no. >> did you ever see any obvious injures or bruises to your mom? >> no, sir. >> reporter: but for juror kimuenster, just the sound of those terrible fights. >> your hands around my throat. >> my hands were not on your throat! >> reporter: the despair in nique's voice. >> if you don't get off, i swear to god. get off! >> reporter: gave her sleepless nights. how hard was it to listen to her audio recordings? >> all i could think about when i would go to sleep is anytime i would close my eyes, that's all i would hear was, "get off me, get off me," her screaming. >> reporter: there is just one more lingering question in this trial, what does matt leili have to say for himself? rumors fly around the courthouse that he wants to take the stand. the judge even asks him. >> mister leili, have you had the chance to speak with your attorney about that decision? >> i don't think i can do it. i'm too emotional. >> reporter: instead, in closing arguments, defense attorney tom clegg throws his client's personality under the bus but claims the state fell far short of proving he's a killer.
>> he can be an argumentative s.o.b. he probably is pretty damn good at pushing people's buttons. but what does that have to do with murder? >> and you need to listen to her. >> reporter: prosecutor lisa jones has the last word. making sure the jury leaves the courtroom with nique's voice echoing in their ears. >> welcome to my world. you killed me a long time ago. >> find him guilty because that's exactly what he is. >> reporter: it's a friday afternoon. the jury has two things on its mind. lunch, and whether matt leili will be eating prison food the rest of his life. >> have you reached a verdict? >> yes, your honor. >> reporter: the ver
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aveeno® naturally beautiful results® >> reporter: i'm told by the bailiff that the jury has reached a verdict so we're going to ask the jury to come in. >> reporter: judgment day for matt leili, accused of killing his wife, nique. nearly five years to build the case, three and a half hours to decide it. on a friday afternoon in georgia, this is the moment nique's family hand in hand, they can hardly wait. >> i'm going to ask you at this time if you would stand and read the verdict out loud. >> as to count one, we the jury find the defendant guilty of malice murder. as to count two, we the jury find the defendant guilty of felony murder. >> and as soon as i heard guilty, i probably squeezed her hand so hard i'm surprised it didn't break, because he was like, did he say guilty, did he say guilty, are you sure? oh, my gosh. >> you got my hand too. >> mr. leili, is there anything you want to say? >> i didn't do it. and i'll be filing an appeal. >> reporter: matt and nique's
younger daughters -- now estranged from her family, arrive in court just in time to hear their father sentenced for murdering their mother. >> i need you to stand up for this sentencing portion. i am going to follow the state's recommendation as to count one, and have you sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. >> reporter: amanda and rebecca still have not given up hope walking out of court somehow convinced daddy will be coming home soon. >> he's filing an appeal and you'll see my dad. >> reporter: the main thing that's left is any kind of rapprochement with your sisters. >> as hard as this has been, and as much hatred that they've harbored, my door is always open. because i don't blame them. i blame him. it's his fault. >> i love them dearly, and that i will always have open arms to them. >> reporter: nique's family wanted to meet some of the people they believe helped deliver justice. >> nice to meet you. >> it's a pleasure to meet you. >> reporter: they asked us to help arrange it and so nique's sister amy dropped by our interview with juror kim muenster. >> thank you so much.
>> reporter: and finally, that detective who made the promise here at nique's grave, tells me it's time to turn the page. now that you're back here after the verdict, what are your thoughts? >> maybe now nique can rest in peace, and -- and know that at least justice was served. and her family can know that. and, you know, now it's time for me to move on to another case. and, you know, hopefully bring some kind of closure to some -- another family. it's time to move on. >> closure for some of the family members, but not all. so, keep the conversation going tonight with this question. >> if one of your family members were charged and the evidence was compelling, how far would you go to defend them? use #abc2020. that's "20/20" for tonight. i'm david muir. >> and i'm elizabeth vargas. from all of us, have a good night and a great weekend.